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If You're Not Using This Type of Content in Your Marketing, You're Missing Out User-generated content is one of the most authentic ways to promote your brand to consumers. Here's how to find and benefit from UGC.

By John Boitnott Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In today's online world, unique branding and strong marketing campaigns aren't enough to stay competitive and stand out as a company. Relevancy requires not only finding and keeping the attention of consumers, but getting the help of those customers to promote your brand.

Whether you realize it or not, this may be something you are already doing in the form of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is content, such as videos, photos or reviews, posted on internet platforms by all types of online users. Although this type of UGC is brand-specific content, it's usually original and created by people rather than the brand itself.

Related: How to Take Advantage of New Marketing Communication in Business Today

Sponsored TikTok influencers who use certain products or YouTube unboxing videos are good examples of UGC that, overall, results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns and videos without it. Also, consumers engage in, on average, over five hours a day with UGC on a variety of platforms. In addition to increased visibility, content created by real customers grants a type of authenticity that, nowadays, is almost a prerequisite for successful branding.

Finding quality UGC isn't always easy but there are ways to take advantage of consumer promotion without having to fake user-generated content. Here are five ways to find and benefit from UGC:

1. Promote your customers

A good way to take advantage of UGC is to help promote people who already want to promote you. Benefit from loyal fans and put a spotlight on the ones already talking about your business online.

Film a video of customers talking about their experiences. Even if the promotion video isn't perfect, showing potential consumers examples of everyday people satisfied with your product will make your brand feel more relatable. And, any additional personality you can give your video will contribute to an overall sense of authenticity. Showing your product in use will also give potential buyers a better sense of the product they're getting and if it's right for them.

Related: 3 Questions to Answer Before Investing More Into Your Marketing Budget

2. Quantify the ROI of UGC

Quantifying the benefit of UGC is helpful for many reasons. You want to find out how brand promotion coming from outside your company is contributing to customer growth or conversion rates. Look at your engagement metrics on various platforms. In this way, you can perform a cost-benefit analysis that can help inform future marketing decisions.

Return on investment (ROI) for UGC can be determined by calculating the value generated from how much you paid to promote and use UGC. One way to measure it could be:

ROI = (Revenue generated from UGC - Investment in UGC) / Investment in UGC

One goal is to determine whether good customer testimonials increase profits on products you're selling. This may help you figure out whether or not to send free items to influencers or other online customers.

It's also important to remember that the ROI of UGC can be hard to measure. But keep an eye out for a range of possible benefits, including increased brand awareness, improved customer loyalty or growing website traffic.

3. Get reviews

Almost every business can collect customer reviews in one way or another. Whether it be online at the end of an email campaign or through promoting Yelp at your place of business, there are many ways to encourage customers to leave reviews.

Not only do reviews help you continually improve, but they also keep you informed on how satisfied your customers are. Additionally, reviews give potential buyers more insight into the product and if it's reliable. Above all, reviews give you potential promotional material that you can use in a variety of content. No matter the response, it is always worth asking clients or shoppers for reviews.

Related: 6 Ways to Determine if Your Content Marketing Team is Delivering Results

4. Incorporate UGC into your planning

Whether it be a dedicated hour every week or a quarterly review, making an intentional effort to take time with your team to talk about UGC can make a big difference. Brainstorming new and different ways to engage customers, put the spotlight on them and elevate your brand is a process worth doing continuously.

Not only can efficiency and success improve with ongoing communication, but you may find yourself redefining goals and innovating at an improved rate. UGC can improve engagement and it's worth devoting company time to figuring out better ways to use it.

5. Take the time to be authentic

It might sound simple, but be patient and take the time to be real. An authentic brand takes time to cultivate and there are no shortcuts. UGC requires an active and engaged customer base and people can tell whether or not content is truly practical and relevant.

Devote time towards strengthening your brand image and identifying real users of your product so you can target content to them and others properly. Patience, focus and adaptability are key attributes of your marketing efforts here.

In a market oversaturated with products, customers crave products made and used by real, everyday people. Authenticity is a new synonym for success, and UGC is one of the most effective ways to be authentic as you promote your brand. Finding and taking advantage of UGC can be daunting, but putting in the effort can bring quantifiable, real, results and a healthier bottom line.

Related: 7 Ways to Tweak your Marketing and Sales Strategies for the New Economy
John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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